Points to Ponder
Zman Simchaseinu – Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztl. writes that the reason why Zman Simchaseinu comes immediately after Yom Kippur is based on a Possuk in Tehillim. Dovid HaMelech writes that Toras Hashem Temimah Meishivas Nafesh to which Rav Yaakov Emden ztl. comments that Torah moves the spirit in a person when it is authentic. However, if one is covered in sin, then the Torah will not have the same effect. For that reason, Sukkos and the Zman Simcha come right after Yom Kippur when the spirit can return to the person fully as a result of Mechilas Avonos.
Nisuch HaMayim – The Darchei Noam of Slonim notes that the concept of Nisuch HaMayim occurring on Sukkos is based on the idea of raising the waters. Life has many matters that tend to fall. Love is one such area. All year long it is too difficult to get to the deeper areas in that we are afraid of getting to areas that are too dirty. However, on Sukkos ,with the abundance of Ahava coming from on high, the fear of getting bogged down can be removed and in the same context, relationships repaired.
The purpose of Sukkah – see the Gemara (Sukkah 11b) as to whether the Sukkah corresponds to actual sukkos or to the ananei HaKavod. The days’ piyutim and Hoshanos though seem to connect everything to Teshuva though. Why and how? Rav Schachter Shlita would often cite Rav Soloveitchik ztl. who explained that the purpose of Sukkah was based on the fact that during this season we know that Hashem reigns over the world. At the same time, we know where he is and that if we want to find him, we can – by going to His place among us. That is the point of Sukkos as well. Whether they are referring to structures provided by Hashem or his protective clouds, they show His dedication to us uniquely. Once the cheit HaEigel happened, the Jews lost their protection. But after the forgiveness of Yom Kippur and the command to build the Mishkan and the non-stop fundraising within 4 days, the Mishkan was there to serve as the renewed bond with Hashem. This is also why the Chag is Zman Simchaseinu as it is the Yom Tov that highlights the unique kesher that we have with Hashem.
The Mitzvah of Sukkah – According to the Rambam in Sefer HaMitzvos the Mitzvah of Sukkah is a seven day mitzvah while that of eating Matzah is only one day. The Baal HaMaor says that while one can go without eating Matza while one cannot go without sleeping for three days and therefore will definitely need a Sukkah. Thus, we make a beracha on the sukkah each day while make one on Matza only on the first day of Pesach. Why is there a difference between Matza and Sukkah? Rav Shach ztl. suggested that when the torah gave us Matza it was as an alternative to Chometz. Chometz on Pesach is like Treif all year round. When we eat Kosher all year round, we do not make a Beracha on not eating Trief hence we only make the Beracha on the Mitzva of Matza which is one day. The other days it is merely an alternative. On the other hand, the food stays Kosher throughout Sukkos. The only reason we return to the Sukka is due to the fulfillment of Hashem’s command.
You should take on the first day (VaYikra 23:40-42) – It is interesting that Meseches Sukkah begins with the Mitzva of Sukkah and only later do we get to the 4 minim. Why do we do that if the 4 minim are mentioned first in the Torah? Rav Elyashiv ztl. cites the Netziv’ s comment to the sheiltos who explains that making the Sukkah is also a Mitzva. He uses Rashi (Makos 8a) as a proof where Rashi notes that chopping wood isn’t a Mitzva but making the Sukkah is. The Netziv explains that although it is only a Hechsher Mitzva, building the Sukkah is a Hechsher Mitzva written in the Torah which makes it more important than most Hesher Mitzvos. Ergo, says Rav Elyashiv, the Mitzva of Sukkah takes precedence as it comes first in the Mitzva performance order by virtue of having the mitzvah written in the torah.
Waving and Hoshanos - It has been pointed out that we shake the lulav for אנא ה’ הושיעא נא but not for הצליחה נא. We carry the Lulav for the Hoshanos but we do not have Hatzlachos. Why not? Rav Gedaliah Dov Schwartz Shlita cited Rav Shlomo Drillman ztl. quoting the Baranowitzer Mashgiach R. Yisrael Yaakov Lubichansky HY”D who said that הושיעה, saving Jews, refers to our Tefillah that Hashem save ALL kinds of Jewish people. This is in concert with the Midrash that identifies the daled minim as representative of all types of people and we all need help. However, when it comes to Hatzlacha, We don’t need to wish the wicked Hatzlacha in their endeavors.
Koheles – Rav Yaakov Ariel Shlita noted that Chazal wanted to put Koheles into Geniza because it raised tough questions when the answers are not complete. Rambam and Raavad argue as to whether philosophical questions should be raised or if it is better to leave them alone. Raavad and the people in Provence in his day wouldn’t want to rock the core of their Emunah with the questions. But it sounds like Chazal agreed with the Rambam’s way was better – to recognize that the questions exist as do the answers too. Rav Ariel adds that Koheles predates its times – the same questions of faith appear in our world today but our job is not to be swayed by challenges to our faith through questions of science and culture nor through pursuit of hedonism. For in the end, man will come around to recognize that in the end Emunah is all that matters.
For Simchas Torah: Blessed be Gad – The children of Gad selected the area of Eiver HaYarden and instead chose to give up the Kedushas HaAretz. Yet, Moshe offers them a Beracha. Rav Shmuel Rozovsky ztl. explains that Shevet Gad wanted the influence that would come from being near Moshe’s Kever as even Moshe’s BODY had a Kedusha status. From here, Rav Shmuel ztl. noted, that it is critical to be close to a Rebbe even after the Rebbe has died. It serves as a reminder of who the Rav was, and how to act the way he did.